The US Chess Federation [1] is in a red-ink well of woe. Unlike past arguments over minor issues (quibbles over international caissic politics, clashes among prima donna grandmaster personalities, nit-pickery about rules, ...) today the USCF, 64 years old, perches on the brink of bankruptcy. New President Beatriz Martinello is trying to pull it back from the edge.

This month's Chess Life epitomizes the situation: it's a bare-bones publication, shorter and without many of the design frills that past issues featured. Martinello confesses to the sudden discovery that "... we had so little cash that we were unable to pay the prizes at the U.S. Open, unable to meet our national office payroll, and unable to mail our own catalog to new members because we could not afford the postage. Our printer refused to accept Chess Life from us without an up-front payment."

Tight times indeed — but with radical spending cuts and a radical sharpening of focus perhaps there's a chance that the organization can recover. The core of the Federation's mission statement is simply: "... USCF promotes the study and kinowledge of the game of chess, for its own sake as an art and enjoyment, but also as a means for the improvement of society." Noble sentiments. As a life member I applaud.

The challenges that face the USCF are likely related to a subtle meltdown that is happening in many parts of the world economy. A mountain of malinvestment happened during the manic dot-com euphoria of the past decade. Now it has to be written off, recycled, or sent to the incinerator. The cash flows are gone that supported a herd of middlemen. Many outfits that thrived in boom times have to cinch up their belts and get used to being hungry. More news to come on that front.

(see also PopGoes (19 Jun 2001), ... )

TopicOrganizations - TopicRecreation - TopicSociety - 2003-11-09

(correlates: HaikuChess, TheChronoliths, TalentForCollaboration, ...)